Pharmacists believe they should be able to take over some of the duties currently carried out by doctors.
Pharmacists believe they should be able to take over some of the duties currently carried out by doctors.

‘People will die’ under pharmacy scheme

QUEENSLANDERS will die and the State Government will be held accountable if pharmacists are given doctors' powers, the Australian Medical Association Queensland chief says.

Pharmacies would be allowed to issue repeat prescriptions, sell medications like Viagra over the counter and vaccinate against a wide range of illnesses under a push by the Queensland's pharmacy lobby to increase the role of the state's 16,000 pharmacists and assistants. The State Government is looking into the proposals.

AMAQ president Dilip Dhupelia says pharmacists would need to go back to university for a few years to have the expertise to replace GPs.

"People will die if life-saving opportunities are missed and it will be in the hands of the Government if they agree to these proposals," Dr Dhupelia told The Courier-Mail.

"If pharmacists want to diagnose and treat patients, and be allowed to control and manage patient medication, they should devote the many years needed to be a skilled and qualified doctor.

"Prioritising convenience over health outcomes and letting pharmacists do what they want puts Queenslanders' health at risk."

The AMAQ says research shows that people who regularly visit their GP are healthier and live longer.

State Health Minister Steven Miles has responded by saying the safety of Queensland is always the Government's top priority.

"At the last election, the Palaszczuk Government made a commitment to ask the relevant parliamentary committee to investigate the establishment of a Pharmacy Council," he said.

"The inquiry will consider how a Pharmacy Council would operate in Queensland and look at how pharmacists and pharmacy assistants operate in other states and whether there are other services they could safely provide."

The AMAQ has put a submission to the Government calling for increased powers to be declined.

The paper highlights cases from GPs who discovered life-threatening conditions when patients came to their surgery for a repeat prescription.

"A GP was asked for a script for an erectile dysfunction medication, which she identified as the first presentation of arterial disease that had not been considered as a diagnosis before," Dr Dhupelia said.

"This allowed treatment to begin and prevented a potential heart attack or stroke."

Pharmacy Guild Queensland vice-president Kos Sclavos said the guild disagreed with the AMAQ claims.

"Medication continuance is available now but in a limited capacity," he said.